Candidates & Recruiters
27-11-18
Recruitment Guide

How candidates can get the most out of a recruiter

Written By
Andy Bristow

There are various reasons a candidate may choose to engage the services of a recruitment consultancy. They may be looking for specialist roles that haven’t been advertised anywhere else and which are an ideal match for their technical skills. Perhaps they’re considering a change of career – or just a slight change of direction – and require some expert advice on the options available to them. Alternatively, they may not have the time or patience to trawl through countless job sites for the “perfect role”, preferring to leave things in the hands of a third party who can do all of the legwork for them.

However, as much as a recruiter can add value, there’s as much onus on a candidate to ensure their experience with a recruiter is a successful one. What that in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips on how you can get the most out of a recruiter.

Choose carefully

As a candidate, you can make life easy for yourself by doing some due diligence on prospective recruiters before sharing a CV with them. In fact, choosing the right agency is absolutely critical – not just for your next role, but for the role after that too.

When it comes to selecting an agency, you almost have to trust your instincts. Rather than considering what makes a “good agency”, think about the things that should get alarm bells ringing. For example, are they asking the questions they should be asking? The more thorough somebody is, the more confidence you can have that they are serious about what they’re doing. They should be able to explain the job to you in detail, and you should finish that conversation with a firm idea of why that job might be of interest to you and what prompted the agent to think you might be a potential match. If you can’t, that would suggest you’re dealing with someone who hasn’t understood the job properly themselves.

Remember they are the experts

While it’s obviously important to be clear about your requirements and what you’re looking for, you should also be prepared to take some guidance from a recruiter on what’s achievable and what isn’t. At the end of the day, they probably know the market better than you (and if they don’t, that should be a warning sign). At best, you might dip in and out of it, whereas the agency is working in it all the time.

So, once you have found a recruiter you can trust and who you enjoy talking to, invest the time to explain yourself to them properly and listen closely to what they have to say. Make sure that if you have reservations or special requirements, you are clear about them, even if you understand that it might preclude you from going forward for some of the better roles they have available.

Keep control of your information

Owning and taking responsibility for your information isn’t only prudent from a data protection point of view, but it can also avoid any complications with your agency, such as duplicate applications. If a client is being sent somebody by two different agencies, that complicates things for both the candidate and the agencies involved, and has the potential to reflect badly on everyone. To avoid this happening, you need to be really clear with your agency that they’re not to send your CV to anyone without your express permission – and to tell you exactly where it’s being sent if they do want to send it out.

We’ve had instances in the past where another agency has submitted a candidate to a job, they’ve been disregarded at filtering stage, we’ve registered that candidate, worked with them on their CV and put it forward to a client, only for them to say, “We’ve had this CV already; it didn’t look like this though.” All the more reason to choose who represents you carefully.

Establish the best line of communication 

There aren’t many things that frustrate an agency more than being unable to make contact with a candidate. It can sometimes be the case that initial engagement with a candidate has been good, but life gets in the way and suddenly communication becomes a struggle and great opportunities slip by. Recruiters aren’t daft, but they know when they are being ignored, and poor communication from candidates often serves as a useful early warning that someone isn’t as engaged as they should be with either a specific job, an agency or a job hunt in general.

This isn’t always the case though, and creating such an impression can be avoided by setting clear lines of engagement at the start of the process. Text messages and WhatsApp tend to work well for us because it means we can get instant responses from people, but some candidates prefer to keep their job-seeking activity outside of their current place of work, so they won’t come back to us until the evening or lunchtime. If you’re happy to take calls whenever, that’s great, but if you’re not, just say you’re not going to answer the phone at work. Keeping those lines of communication open is crucial if you’re actively looking for a new role.